"So I've started work on a new script..."My Life in Film
was a short comedy series about the life of a self-styled independent low budget film maker
whose adventures whilst looking for inspiration for his new screenplay took on certain tropes off films that had previously explored the genre. Or, to put it more simply, it was a skillful parody of six well-known films set in everyday suburbia, with a narrative working over the course of the series. The episodes weren't titled but each episode takes so many stylistic elements from its targets - musical style, lighting, cinematography, clothing, poses - not to mention subversion of the classic lines - that the parodies were obvious to anyone who'd seen the originals.
The protagonist, Art, lives in a large flat with his long-sufferring and slightly naive roommate/best friend Jones, and Jones' girlfriend Beth, whom Art hates (it's mutual). They both keep getting unwittingly drawn into Art's cinematic psychoses. The episodes were as follows:
- Rear Window: After spying on a pretty girl across the yard from his bedroom window and witnessing an argument, Art becomes convinced that her boyfriend has killed, dismembered, buried her and cooked the remains into soup.
- The Shining: Art babysits his nephew Danny, but thinks there's a psychopath on the prowl trying to kill them.
- Top Gun: Frustrated at not being able to pass his driving test, Art joins an elite driving school and gets romantically entangled with his instructor.
- Shallow Grave: After they forget to feed the neighbour's fish, Hugo, the trio discover a paltry sum of money in the sofa. Jones is forced to bury the fish and suffers something of a breakdown, the money goes missing, and an atmosphere of mutual distrust soon develops.
- 8½: Enlisted to film Jones' sister's wedding, Art undergoes a professional crisis at his complete inability to make a film.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: After Art fails to pay the rent, he and Jones are chased by the landlord and is forced to flee to the Isle of Man.
As well as parodying the tropes in the films listed above, this series provides examples of:
- Book Ends: Each episode starts with Art telling some unwitting stranger about his latest idea for a script, which happens to be the plot outline for the film they'll be parodying that week. The episodes then end with Art doing a voiceover of another idea he's had for a script, which is always another film plot that runs on from the events of the episode. For example, in The Shining episode, Art hurts his foot after running around with an axe. Just before the credits roll he's being tended to by their elderly neighbour and thinking about a script that bears a passing resemblance to Misery.
- British Brevity: Six episodes only
- Double Entendre: Plenty, including inverted where Art thinks people are making sly references to sex... but aren't.
- Fawlty Towers Plot: The Shallow Grave episode
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Art and Jones
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Kris Marshall, aka the annoying twerp from the BT adverts
- Hypocritical Humour: "This is no pervert voyeur that can't get a girlfriend"
- Idiot Ball: Art throws this around a lot, and Jones is frequently caught in the crossfire.
- Jerk Ass: Art, in spades. He's completely reliant on Jones for almost everything, yet treats him and everyone else with contempt.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: No DVD release, even in the UK. You can watch the sublime Top Gun episode here however.
- Large Ham: In-universe, Art reacts to everything with supremely exaggerated emotion and broken clichés
- After being caught in the ladies toilet by the woman he spectacularly failed to impress at the bar:
"I came in here to check the sink. Looks good."
"You don't look like a plumber..."
"Neither do you"
- Last Name Basis: Even Jones' immediate family call him Jones
- Meaningful Name: Art the, uh, "artist"
- Not What It Looks Like: More a not what it sounds like, involving a cricket bat
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Art's sex/parking scene.
- Pen Name: Art signs his screenplays with a different "artistic" pseudonym, such as Art von Kapel or Arturo Capelli
- Poor Communication Kills: An inversion with the half-heard telephone conversation that convinces Art that a murder has taken place. The person on the other end of the phone is the woman who Art thinks has been killed.
- Rule of Funny: Heavily present in-universe
- Running Gag: Art sneezes whenever Beth walks in the room; he claims he's allergic to her. He's actually allergic to her perfume, which Beth switches with his nasal spray in a fit of drunken revenge.
- Shirtless Scene: The ping-pong match
- Serious Business: Art and his work
"I'm a filmmaker! I'm married to the moving image, my wife is celluloid! Charlie... she can only ever be my mistress."
- Title Drop: An interesting variation where the tagline from the original movie is frequently worked into the script
- Troperiffic: The whole point of the show.